I love picture books… like really love picture books. There is no better way to engage students and introduce key concepts in the classroom than with a quality picture book.
As well as providing children with an introduction to art and story, these experiences are also rich in their support of early literacy. Reading picture books, whether as an independent reader or as a shared reading experience, builds language skills and fosters critical and creative thinking. Today’s world needs those creative thinkers with solid problem-solving skills, and the ability to ‘read’ pictures – to compose, communicate, and think critically about images in our visually saturated world – is key.
REASONS WHY TO USE PICTURE BOOKS IN THE CLASSROOM
Engaging with visual images is enjoyable and stimulating. It’s true what they say… one picture is worth a thousand words. Children appreciate images and gain meaning from them.
Enjoyment leads to engagement. This is the same for us all – adults and children alike. A good picture books will absorb children’s attention and foster a positive association with books.
Opportunities to talk.
A stimulating image promotes talk and allows children to reflect on images – whether they are familiar, unusual or playful – if they have captured interest – children will want to talk about them. In talking they are building vocabulary and making meaning.
Developing skills in reading and writing.
Engaging with a picture book offers opportunities to develop English skills in an ‘holistic’ way. Engaging with pictures develops ‘visual literacy’.
The opportunities to talk, can be structured and planned to allow children to ask questions, share with a partner or develop a dramatic moment – a freeze frame or role play from the book. Pictures will often support children’s understanding of text and will enable children to develop their language comprehension skills.
Engagement in a picture book may stimulate a child to write – creating a character description from an image, for example, or creating their own picture book on a similar theme for younger children.
Motivating reluctant readers.
Children who are struggling with their reading for whatever reason benefit from spending more time with picture books to develop their visual literacy thus avoiding books that are text heavy.
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